Hugh Wilson contributor MSN Him
29 January 2012 14:49 | By Hugh Wilson, contributor, MSN Him

Why women love the anti-hero

Don Draper is the ultimate TV babe magnet and he's back on our screens soon, so what is Don Draper's secret?


Mad Men actors Jon Hamm and January Jones (© NBCUPhotobank-Rex Features)

If you don't know who Don Draper is, you're probably not a woman under 50.

To recap, Draper is the lead character of the 1960s-set TV series Mad Men (coming back to our screens soon but airing in the US on 25 March), set in a fictional advertising firm on Madison Avenue in New York City. Much of the drama revolves around the life and loves of Draper, who chain-smokes, drinks to excess and hides a shadowy past.

He is also serially unfaithful (despite being the father of three children) and is not, in fact, who he says he is, after assuming the identity of a dead comrade during the Korean War to avoid further action.

In other words, he's an out-and-out cad. And despite that, your girlfriend almost certainly harbours a secret crush on him. When you catch a girl in the office staring dreamily into the middle distance, she's probably thinking about Don Draper.

Suffice to say, women love Draper. So what is it about the Don they find so alluring? And what can we learn from him? MSN Him reveals all.

Mad Men actress January Jones, who plays character Betty Draper (© Evan Agostini-Associated Press)

Jon Hamm's Mad Men character Don Draper has no trouble snaring a host of female characters, including January Jones' Betty Draper

He's brainy

Women love intelligent men, and Don's got brains by the bucket load. He may be a cad, but he's a successful man in a cut-throat creative industry.

"Don's deep intellect is a proven winner with the female sex," says Kate Taylor, relationship expert for match.com. "As match's 2012 LoveGeist Report shows, almost half of women say that academic ability is important to them when choosing a partner."

Time and again, studies show that women value intelligence and Draper's sharp wit and think-on-your-feet cunning are clearly a winner. According to evolutionary theory, men with these qualities are good bets as fathers and providers, giving Don an advantage over less astute competitors.

He might have a sensitive side

'Might' being the operative word. Still, even if it's usually well hidden, there's a hint of sensitivity under his caddishness, and that might be all it takes.

Women might be repelled by his infidelity and his lifestyle is hardly designed to entrance the opposite sex, but given his obvious intelligence and chiselled good looks, just a glimpse of a softer side under that cool exterior could be enough to convince women of one thing: they can change him.

"Women are often attracted to artistic men because they assume the creativity hints at a more sensitive soul inside," says Taylor. "We see this with Draper during his legendary Kodak presentation when he gets emotional looking at his wedding photos, which shows us he does have a heart, despite his caddish ways."

The fact is, they probably won't change him, but if one thing is for certain it's that some women do like a challenge.

He's a challenge

And they'll get one with our Don. Yes, he's driven and ambitious, and that can be attractive to a woman who prizes power and status. There are good evolutionary reasons for that, of course. A man with status will have the resources to support her and the kids when the time comes.

But there's something more. "Their focus on work makes them more of a challenge romantically," says Taylor. "They are busy, preoccupied, slightly out of reach - and at the start of a relationship, this is alluring."

Draper isn't an easy catch, which means there's more kudos attached to reeling him in. If a woman bags Don Draper (even if, for him, it proves a temporary infatuation) it speaks volumes for her own powers of attraction.

Don Draper character reclines in his office (© Kevork Djansezian-Associated Press)

Don Draper is a sharply-dressed man, which our expert says appeals to women

He's a sharp dresser

You can't talk about the appeal of Don Draper without mentioning style. He's a sharp dresser all right, but more than that, he owns his classic vibe. Here's a man who looks right at home in clothes that reflect his personality: confident, powerful, virile.

So what's his secret? Partly, it's simply that he is utterly confident of his style. And partly, it's down to very good suits that he knows how to wear. "The fit of your suit is really key to this look," says Sarah Gilfillan, founder of men's personal shopping and wardrobe management company Sartoria Lab.

"Choose jackets that have a slim, square and structured shoulder line, and a tapered waistline. Trousers are a slim-ish cut, but not as tight and short as is often associated with a later 60s style. Jackets are two or three buttoned and generally single-breasted."

Don doesn't do bright colours, he doesn't show too much sock or shirt cuff, and he tops it all off with a skinny, straight tie, either plain or striped. His hair is always perfectly side-parted and he is always clean-shaven (though he can get away with a hint of five o'clock shadow later in the day).

What does all this say? It says, I'm in control, I'm ready for anything, and I'm as comfortable sweet-talking women in a cocktail bar as I am schmoozing clients in the office. You don't have to look exactly like Don to pull that off, but you do need good quality clothes and a style that is sophisticated, subtle, and suits you to a T.

Don's the don

And according to - well - pretty much any woman you care to question on the subject, all this adds up to one fantastic package. Stylish, mysterious, clever and creative, Don Draper has the heart of a rogue with a hint of sensitivity: anyone can be Don, but nobody said it was easy.

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